Seniors Who Exercise Regularly May Have Younger Hearts, Muscles : Shots – Health News : NPR

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Seniors Who Exercise Regularly May Have Younger Hearts, Muscles : Shots – Health News : NPR

Enlarge this image The people who got caught up in the exercise boom of the 1970s and stuck with it into their senior years now have significantly healthier hearts and muscles than their sedentary counterparts. David Trood/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption David Trood/Getty Images The people who got caught up in the exercise boom of the 1970s and stuck with it into their senior years now have significantly healthier hearts and muscles than their sedentary counterparts.
David Trood/Getty Images We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay stronger well into our senior years. In fact, people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades seem to have put a brake on the aging process, maintaining the heart, lung and muscle fitness of healthy people at least 30 years younger.
Take 74-year-old Susan Magrath, a retired nurse practitioner who lives in Muncie, Ind. Magrath has been running almost daily for 45 years. She often runs outdoors and describes it as addictive. “It’s just such a release, just a wonderful release,” she says. “I ran today and there were little snowflakes coming down, and I was down by the river and it’s just wonderful. And I think it’s become more of a contemplative meditative process for me.”
Magrath may be living proof that lifelong exercise helps with cardiovascular and muscle health. She recently took part in a study at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University, also in Muncie, headed by exercise physiologist Scott Trappe . Trappe is among the first to study the enticing new population of lifelong exercisers.
After the running and aerobic boom of the 1970s, large numbers of septuagenarians stuck with it and have been exercising regularly for the past 50 years. In this population, Trappe says, “We were interested in basically two questions: One, what was their cardiovascular health? And two, what was their skeletal muscle health?”

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